One homeless and hungry woman in Boston tells of her trials -- and her hopes

Like many others who are hungry and homeless, Grace Moore (not her real name) came to ``Saturday's Bread'' in need of a good meal. Between jobs and penniless, Grace is apparently in her mid-30s, of medium height, with brown curly hair, and wearing old but neat clothing. But though unremarkable in appearance, she is quite articulate. She says she has a master's degree. ``The homeless have no financial cushion,'' Grace said. ``They are completely vulnerable.''

A member of a poor family, Grace said she paid her own way through college, both undergraduate and graduate school. After she finished college, she said, she found her degree in psychology and phenomenology to be impractical, but she finally located a job. Later, when she felt her employer was acting unethically, she complained and was fired, she said.

The loss of her job was devastating, she said. With this black mark on her record and no other relevant experience, a difficult job market became impossible. She took a variety of jobs -- working as a secretary, a store clerk, and eventually in a fast-food restaurant. Finally, a physical problem kept her from obtaining work, and because she had no money for rent, she was evicted.

Grace said she could not turn to her family for help. With no other alternative, she had to swallow her pride and become better acquainted with the charities in the Boston area. She took occasional rooms in local shelters, but spent several weeks living on the streets.

All during this time, Grace said, she continued applying for jobs. But, she asked, ``Who would hire someone with only one set of clothes?''

Despite all her own troubles, Grace said, her thoughts were focused on helping others. She volunteered at local shelters and helped to found a drop-in center for newly deinstitutionalized people.

``We have a moral obligation to help each other, '' she declares. ``The circle of humanity includes all people.''

Grace was not the only person that day who would not have eaten without ``Saturday's Bread.'' An out-of-work artist, a father with two children, and an elderly professor were among those on the list of visitors.

Most of the people there said they were only temporarily down on their luck -- that they could make their way out of poverty. But all were grateful for the helping hand.

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